I have a membership to the Jewish Community Center for two reasons. 1) The people of the JCC are nice, normal, middle-aged people who often wear sweatbands. Testosterone is low; morale is high. And 2) I can literally see the building from my house. It’s less than a block away. This creates a very “thank u, next” environment for all of my excuses.
Another perk is that the JCC offers group classes, one of which being yoga. Yoga and I have been casual friends for many years, but I’m the jerk friend who gives yoga the side-eye for turning everything into a deeply-emotional metaphor. Be that as it may, I’m trying to avoid turning into C-3P0 again this year, so I committed to JCC yoga on Monday and Wednesday nights.
I love it an absurd amount.
Imagine if Holly Hunter taught a yoga class as Elastigirl. That is Monday night yoga. This teacher is not the whisper-voiced “ommmmmm” type. She is the type that says things like, “Imagine as you stand that you are BRINGING UP THE SUN!!!!!!!!!!!!” She also frequently refers to our “bandhas” (no idea) and is a big fan of s-breaths, which require you take a deep breath in and breathe out through pursed lips, making a “sssssssssss” sound like a snake, for as long as possible. “As long as possible” lasts an eternity longer than you’d think. This lady can exhale an s-breath for a solid minute, maybe more. No joke. Except it is a joke, because I can’t do any part of this without laughing.
Side note: it is incredibly hard not to church-laugh in Monday night yoga when Jenny is there. This week, the breaking point was during a pose that was very Little Mermaid-esque, if Ariel was in the legs portion of her journey and the giant rock beneath her was an upholstered chair.
Wednesday night yoga is a different experience, but no less enjoyable. It’s more of a traditional power yoga class, except it’s set to golden oldies from the 60s and 70s. They always tell you to “bring your yoga practice into your life,” and seeing as I’ve had the All Out 70s playlist on repeat, that goal has finally been realized.
The Wednesday night teacher has a much different vibe than Monday night’s teacher. She is a tall and skinny wonder who looks like she could break you in half while doing an interpretive dance. She’s incredibly kind, quietly making eye contact and celebrating with you from the front of the room when you unlock a new yoga achievement level.
These classes do not take place in a fancy yoga studio with freshly polished hardwoods and soft lighting. They are held in a back room of the Jewish Community Center under blinking fluorescents. The ground beneath our feet is covered in decades-old, green-gray carpet. Teachers play music on their phones pushed up to full volume, or, occasionally, on a bluetooth speaker. The median age in the room has to hover somewhere between 40 and 50. There is no up-charge for the classes. I pay a normal monthly membership to the JCC—and even if I only went for yoga, it would amount to less than $4 per class.
I didn’t expect to love these classes. I expected to have the same eye-roll experience I have in most yoga classes. But instead, these slightly janky, down-to-earth classes have become some of my favorite moments of each week.
Sometimes, to find the thing that works for you, you have to find 100 things that don’t.
I didn’t think I liked brussels sprouts until I covered them with olive oil and roasted them for nearly an hour at 425°. I didn’t think I wanted to work in an office until I found an office filled with people I loved. I didn’t think I liked group exercise classes—yoga or otherwise—until I stumbled into loving JCC yoga.
It gives me reason to pause before making sweeping judgment calls on anything: what I do and do not like, what I will and will not do, where I could and could not live. The much more likely reality is that somewhere in-between the extremes, there’s a perfect fit that can’t be found unless I’m willing to try again, try again, try again.
And apparently, the perfect fit for yoga is rolling out my college-era Target mat on JCC carpet while trying to find a level of zen that will keep me from laughing out loud when all I can hear is “Part of Your World” on repeat in my mind. Namaste.